IT IS HARD TO believe that Bloom in the Park is celebrating its 10th anniversary. I have been there every year and I just think it is a tremendous event. It runs from this Thursday, June 2, to next Monday, June 6, and I am delighted to be doing a cookery demonstration every day.
I just love the crowds at Bloom and the atmosphere is always fantastic for all the demos. I think it is great that kids go free at Bloom and there is so much for them to do and it is a real festival for all the family. My own kids, Connor and Lucia and my wife Amelda always come up for one of the days and we always have a brilliant time.
To check out the times for all the cookery demonstrations involving all the chefs visit this page and scroll down to stage schedule.
This year I am doing something a little different as well. On Saturday night to celebrate 10 years of Bloom we are having ‘An evening with Neven Maguire’. Held in the Bloom show gardens it promises to be a wonderful event. Drinks on arrival will be followed by a five course tasting menu crated by myself and I am so looking forward to the chance to chat and answer questions from the audience on the night.
Of course Bloom is centred around gardening and there is some breathtaking gardens and flowers on display but there is so much more to it than that and food is a big part of Bloom. Some of the best Irish producers are at Bloom and people are in for a real treat. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows what a champion I am for Irish produce and Bloom is the perfect place to see what I am talking about. I just love to call around the stalls and see what is on show and support the producers. We are so lucky to have the best produce in the world right here in Ireland. If we buy Irish, shop local and use Bord Bia quality assured produce we can all enjoy wonderful food as well as help Irish jobs and businesses.
And just a quick word on Bord Bia themselves. They do a fantastic job in promoting Ireland and Irish produce and Irish food and I am very proud to work with them. Hylda Adams from Bord Bia has been a fantastic help to me over the years, she is the reason that I got into Cookery demos and I have loved every minute of it.
Bloom will be launched this Thursday by President Michael D Higgins. In previous years he has called in to the cookery demonstration and he is just a lovely man and always starts each conversation by asking how Amelda, Connor and Lucia and he remembers their names every year. A real gentleman.
I hope you all get along to Bloom this year and keep an eye on my Twitter account and on MacNean’s Facebook page as I will be giving away tickets to Bloom. Now before I sign off here is one of the recipes that I will be cooking this year at Bloom. Hope you enjoy and I hope to see you soon.
MEDITERRANEAN VEGETABLE AND GOATS CHEESE PIZZA TART
320g (11oz) packet frozen puff
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 small courgette, cut into dice
1 small red onion, cut into dice
100g (4oz) aubergine,cut into dice
2 roasted red peppers, cut into dice (from a jar or can)
1 goats cheese log
3 tbsp basil pesto (shop-bought or homemade)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
red pepper purée, to serve (optional)
fresh baby basil leaves, to garnish
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unroll the puff pastry and place on a clean work surface. Cut into quarters and place on the lined baking sheet. Prick the pastry all over many times to prevent it from puffing up. Lay another sheet of parchment paper over the pastry pieces and cover with a second baking sheet. This will prevent them from rising too much and make them extra crispy and golden brown. Bake for 15–18 minutes, until slightly puffed up and lightly golden, swapping the baking sheets around on the oven shelves halfway through to ensure they cook evenly.
Meanwhile, heat the rapeseed oil in a frying pan and sauté the courgette, red onion and aubergine on a medium heat for 8–10 minutes, until the vegetables are beginning to soften and catch colour. Season to taste and stir in the diced roasted peppers and 2 tablespoons of the basil pesto.
Divide the sautéed vegetables evenly among the pastry cases, spreading them out to the rim using the back of a spoon. Arrange slices of goat’s cheese on top of each one and drizzle over the remaining tablespoon of basil pesto. Return to the oven for 6–8 minutes, until the tarts have completely warmed through.
Arrange the pizza tarts on warmed plates and drizzle around the red pepper purée, if using. Garnish with the fresh basil and toasted pine nuts.